3 Steps to Preparing Your Novel Manuscript for a Book Editor

3 Steps to Preparing Your Novel Manuscript for a Book Editor

3 Steps to Preparing Your Novel Manuscript for a Book Editor
Photo by Stephen Nakatani / via Flickr

3 Steps to Preparing Your Novel Manuscript for a Book Editor

Got a novel manuscript ready for publication? You've been working hard to complete the first draft of your novel and now you want to send it off to a copy editor for a line edit and an editorial critique. But before you do that, there are a few things you'll want to do first.

1. Create a polished draft.

Before sending your novel manuscript for professional editing, you'll want to make sure you have a polished draft. This means you've gone through rounds of self-editing to catch things like typos and grammatical errors, plot holes and issues, and characterization issues. After creating your polished draft, you'll know you've given it your best shot and are now ready to move to the next step.

2. Get feedback from beta readers.

Part of producing a professional manuscript involves getting it into the hands of beta readers who can provide feedback on any number of areas. These readers could be family members or friends or people you've met in writing groups.

Doing this before sending your manuscript to a copy editor will help you identify issues that a reader will likely catch. You can provide your beta readers with a list of specific questions to consider as they read your novel or you can ask your readers to provide general impressions of your story. This step is about getting your novel into readers' hands and getting feedback before you start selling it on Amazon.

3. Do a final review.

After you've taken the feedback from your beta readers into consideration and made changes where needed, now is the time to do one final review before sending it to your copy editor.

When doing your final review, here are some last-minute things to check:

  • Chapter numbers
  • Problem areas you left for later
  • Did you make any changes based on feedback from beta readers?
  • Did you eliminate areas of "info dumping"?
  • Are the character actions and setting realistic?
  • Have you heightened the stakes for your characters?
  • Do you believe in your story world?
  • Have you given it your best shot?

The role of the copy editor is to help you strengthen a polished manuscript by pointing out the problem areas and offering feedback on how to fix them. And you'll get the best results if you go through these steps and give it your best shot. The more polished your manuscript, the deeper the edit can get.

Jody Calkins
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